PROHIBITION OF RIBA
FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF FOUR MAIN SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT
In the comprehensive and restrictive meaning, riba is defined as “any increment incurred upon specific ribawi (usurious) items originated either from debt or trading transactions”. Apart from its literal meaning of “increase”, classical Islamic scholars such as Ibn Arabi, Mujahid and Tabari interpreted riba as an ‘increase without wealth (mal) attached to it’, or as ‘compensation for waiting’ or ‘increase of amount owing to the lenders due to the deferment of payment resulted from extension of original loan tenure’. Such interpretation encompasses riba from debt transaction (i.e. riba ad-duyun) as well as riba from trading of the six ribawi items (i.e. riba al buyu’).
The prohibition of riba appears in Al-Quran in four different revelations. The first of these is in Surah Ar-Rum ayyat 39 which emphasized on moral denunciation for those who gives riba and commendation for those who contribute tithe (zakat). The second revelation is in Surah An-Nisa ayyat 161 concerning riba and the Jews. It severely condemned the Jews who took riba despite they were forbidden to do so. The third revelation in Surah Ali Imran ayyat 130 enjoined the Muslims to keep away themselves from riba and the fourth revelation in Surah Al-Baqarah ayyat 275-278 delineate the strong verdict against riba especially the two excerpts from ayyat 275 which stated that “Those who devour riba will not stand except as one whom the devil has driven madness by [his] touch” and “… Allah has permitted trade and forbidden riba”.
Allah SWT strongly condemned riba and that was reflected in Surah Al-Baqarah ayyat 278-279 which imposes harsh punishment for those who hesitate to observe the verdict. Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) during his last pilgrimage pronounced the following: “Be aware that every single type of…...